Santa Cruz County History - Places

Notes on the History of Williams Mill and Williams Landing in Bonny Doon, California
by Paul Tutwiler


The Rancho Arroyo de la Laguna
James Williams and his Rancho
Land Transactions Involving or Related to the Rancho Before the Death of James Williams
Land Uses and Transactions After the Death of James Williams
A Note on George Liddell
Appendix: Maps

Land Uses and Transactions After the Death of James Williams

This section derives from many and varied sources, as noted.


Andrew Glassell began operating lime kilns along the Williams Landing-Williams Mill Road. Later (year unknown) Grove Adams, who had been a partner of Glassell’s, acquired sole possession of the lime kiln operation. (From Robert Piwarzyk, The Laguna Limekilns. Copyrighted, not published, in 1996, p. 27. A later publication, Lime Kiln Legacies: The History of the Lime Indusry in Santa Cruz County. Santa Cruz: Museum of Art and History, 2007, agrees that Glassell acquired the kilns in 1858, but is not sure he began to operate them in the same year.)


There was a "Glassell's Landing" in 1864, and from it were shipped 10,000 staves on July 9 and other shipments after that. Bibliography of Early California Forestry, Santa Cruz County, vol.3, part 4.


"During the recent fire large quantities of tanbark were destroyed in the neighboring hills. On the San Lorenzo there were 470 cords and east of Williams Landing there were 950 cords destroyed. This may materially effect [sic] the tanning interest outside of the county, the Santa Cruz tanneries being supplied in part for the present. It is said that bark cannot be pealed [sic] for two years after a fire burns over a forest of chestnut oak. At Glassell's mill besides burning the mill over 20,000 feet of redwood fence posts were consumed." San Francisco Evening Bulletin, 1867, vol 24 no. 84 p 1 c 5, July 15. Also reported in the Santa Cruz Times, July 6. In Bibliography of Early California Forestry, Santa Cruz County, vol.2, part 2.

In a list of Santa Cruz sawmills: "Williams Landing - Jones - 2 saws, daily cap. 20,000, steam power, occupant Hatch & Co." Langley, Henry G., Pacific Coast Business Directory, Publisher Henry G. Langley, San Francisco, 1867. Bancroft Library, F851.a1 1867. Bibliography of Early California Forestry, Santa Cruz County, vol. 2, part 2.


On March 11, 1868 John J.[sic] Williams sells for $10,000 the Rancho and school land warrants to Grove Adams, Benjamin F. Lee, Peregrine Fitzhugh, William T. Glassell (1/5 each for these) and Charles Moss and Donald Beadle (1/10 each for these), and all these together sell it for $1 to John I. [sic] Williams. (Santa Cruz County Register of Deeds, Vol. 10, page 422 and 424 (old 591 and 593))

On May 7, 1868 the transfer for debts of the Rancho and school land warrants to Andrew Glassell is confirmed. (Santa Cruz County Register of Deeds, Vol. 10, page 508 (old 717))

These two entries from the 1868 Register of Deeds are confusing, and they raise more questions than they answer. The following narrative paragraph, however, at least indicates the uses to which the land and facilities were put.

Recently Fitzhugh, Adams & Co. purchased the Glassell rancho and commenced the manufacture of lime on a larger scale than heretofore ... Abundance of timber is growing near the place, and as the proprietors have ... purchased 4,000 acres of land in addition to the Glassell rancho, they have sufficient land and timber facilities for all time to come.... (Bancroft Scraps. California Manufacturing Industries: Santa Cruz. Lime Kilns. 139 pp. Vol 48, p. 70 in Bancroft Library, call no. F851.7B2 v. 48; 1868. Bibliography of Early California Forestry, Santa Cruz County, vol.3, part 3.)


Grove Adams sold possession of the lime kiln operation along the Williams Landing-Williams Mill Road to "two men who built a road to connect the limekilns with the wharf at Davenport so they could utilize that better, safer facility." (Piwarzyk, The Laguna Limekilns, p. 27)


There was one saw mill, Glassell's, on the Rancho and associated property, which had two saws, had a capacity of 8,000 ft/day, was steam powered, and cost $10,000. (Pacific Coast Business Directory for 1876-78, published in San Francisco by Henry G. Langley, 1875.)

The same Directory, in its list of places, their location, and the businesses in them, lists "HATCH TH & CO, dairymen" in "Rancho Arroyo de Laguna, Santa Cruz Co, PO address Santa Cruz, 9 miles of Santa Cruz."


The owner of the Rancho as of February 26 was a "Mr. Brangen" according to the Docket of Case 345, Northern District of the U. S. Land Commission. (See section 1 for further information about this docket.)


The 4,418 acres of the Rancho are shown to be the property of the German Savings and Loan Society. The map which conveys this information also shows buildings where the coast road crosses Laguna Creek and Yellow Bank Creek, but not where it crosses Liddell Creek. The map is the Wright-Bennett-Healey or Thomas W. Wright Map of Santa Cruz County in 64 sheets, dated 1881, and it can be found in the University of California-Santa Cruz Library Map Room.


On April 30 there appeared in the Santa Cruz Daily Sentinel an anonymous article about the dairies along the coast north of Santa Cruz. Starting from R. H. Hall’s Natural Bridges Dairy, which was within the city limits, the writer describes briefly each dairy he encounters, Moore’s, Wilder’s, Smith’s, Baldwin’s, and Scaroni’s before coming to the dairies along the creeks along or in the Rancho Arroyo de la Laguna:

Eight miles from Santa Cruz and next in order [this appears to be along both banks of Laguna Creek], is the Eagle Glen Dairy ranch, comprising 1,300 acres of as fine land and premises for dairying purposes as can be found in the State. Upon the hills and table lands, during feeding hours, can be seen 200 head of cattle grazing in the sunshine and shade, among them part blooded Holstein stock. Of this number 140 cows are milked at the present time, and from this number is produced daily 350 pounds of cheese, eight men being employed in the work. Antone Silva, who leases 1,100 acres of the land on this ranch from Horace Gushee, reports the crops as looking fine, and speaks in glowing terms of the beautiful drives and scenery about the premises. A fine stream of water, stocked with mountain trout, flows through the land, and on the southern border of the ranch, is a gradually-sloping beach upon which mosses, shells and curiosities can be found, while inland numerous wild flowers and ferns await the picking by the joyful lover of the beautiful.

The Yellow Bank Dairy is also on this coast road, and then Laird’s dairy is reached. Considerable has already been written concerning this dairy, yet it may be added that Mr. Laird has made it a point to work in thoroughbred short-horn stock in his drove, and some time ago purchased the handsome bull, "Second Duke of Alameda," a fine bred animal. The sire of the Duke took first premium at the Santa Clara County Fair in 1885. At the present time a large portion of his cows are one-half and three-quarter bred short-horns. The annual yield of this dairy from 200 cows is about 80,000 pounds of cheese, or about 400 pounds to the cow.

Fillipini's dairy adjoins Laird's dairy and is celebrated for the fine quality of butter produced there, a large portion of which is sold in Santa Cruz. Numerous other dairies are to be seen along the coast, but we have been unable to visit them, or hear from them, on account of the great distance from the city...

The writer does not know the exact locations of Laird's and Fillipini's dairies. At least one of them would have been on the Rancho.


According to the 1889 map of Santa Cruz County by Andrew Jackson Hatch, a copy of which is in the Map Room of the University of California-Santa Cruz, the owner of the whole coastal portion of the rancho, but not of all the upper portion of it, was Jeremiah Respini, and the creek otherwise known asYellow Bank Creek was called Respini Creek. There was a dairy near the mouth of this creek, and the only dairy on the Rancho west of that was located on a very small arroyo between Liddell and San Vicente Creeks.


On page 197, among descriptions of companies in the county, in Edward S. Harrison, History of Santa Cruz County, 1892 is:


This company is composed of W. F. March, President and Manager; George Olive, Vice President; A. A. Davis, Secretary; and F. L. French and F. S. March and the aforesaid gentlemen as Directors.

Their mill is located on Liddell Creek, several miles up the coast, and has a capacity of forty thousand feet of lumber daily. They manufacture and deal in all kinds of sawed and split lumber, moulding, brackets, window and door frames, etc.

The loading of lumber upon schooners is done by means of a cable. Shipments are made from the mill to Santa Cruz, and to branch yards at Cambria and Morro, San Luis Obispo County. A cut of their mill is herewith presented.

The cut shows a mill with two smokestacks and a valley (forested in the upper tracts) leading down in the background to the seashore, where, perched on the cliff, is a building with one smokestack and a cable leading down from it and to the left to a free standing two-masted schooner. This accurately depicts the view a bird would have looking down over the mill on Williams Mill Creek and over Liddell Creek to Williams Landing.

The same book, on page 154, includes Williams Landing in a list of current coastal landings.

Next: A Note on George Liddell

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Bonny Doon


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